I don’t remember how old I was, but I had to be in my mid-twenties because by then I was a licensed youth minister. I was on the dance floor at some party that my friend Ashlee had taken me to. We were dancing and a guy comes up to me to dance and then asks me what I do for a living. Screaming over the music I said
“I’m a youth minister!”
“What?!” he screamed.
“I’m a youth minister!” I screamed back.
“Oh” he said subtly.
And there that went. Honestly I think he heard me the first time, but just wanted to make sure I said what he thought I said. I get the weirdest reactions when I tell men that I’m a Pastor or I’m in ministry. Literally last week I was out at a networking event with my homegirl and when I met a few guys here were their reactions below:
Guy 1: “Whoah really?”
Guy 2: “I paid my tithes!”
Guy 3: “Oh, well then Reverend” then proceeds to go into a scene from “Coming to America.” Insert scene here:
This is why when many of us women-pastor-folk got to seminary, we went crazy thinking we were in a place where the men would be on the same page as us, spiritually and intellectually. I think I forgot about that “emotionally” part because that is important too, and many of us just weren’t on the same page. Most men in ministry didn’t even want a “wife in ministry” either. Some did- and the less than handful of them got married. I’d go as far as to say that some (not all) men in ministry love the idea of a wife as a co-pastor; as long as they are the ones who anoint her co-pastor and as long as her education doesn’t supersede his.
This is not a complaint blog. I’m not complaining that being a woman in ministry is hard when it comes to dating. I’d just say that it’s interesting. I’ve had interesting experiences. Good and bad. But overall, it’s always weird having this calling and these titles and presenting myself to potentials. Because at the end of the day, I equally don’t want someone who will be intimidated by me as much as I don’t want to have to dumb my calling, my education or my titles down for the sake of becoming more approachable. The other day a friend alluded to the idea that I no longer have such an intimidating title anymore and therefore, I can now use that to my advantage when presenting myself different places or dating. I don’t have to say I am “Associate Campus Pastor for Preaching & Spiritual Programming.” Haha. Now that I write it out, perhaps it was a tad long and daunting. I can now say, “Oh I do Chaplain work at Georgetown.” Or “Oh I do social media consulting.” I guess those are supposed to make me sound more approachable as a woman. But nah, I’ll keep telling everyone I’m a Pastor. I mean, I can say the other things I do too, but I am a woman Pastor in ministry and other things. I’m not going to hide behind that because it may intimidate someone. Honestly, I don’t want to be in intimate company with anyone who has such reactions to who I am and my life’s work.
It’s not all hopeless. I’ve met plenty of men who were fascinated with who I am and didn’t want me to change. Though, because those didn’t last long, I never got the opportunity to see if that would have shifted later. It’s always cute in the beginning until the reality of it sets in. I say all this to say that none of us should present ourselves to be anything less than who we are. We’re all just human beings uniquely placed on this earth to make our mark and do some good. We all bring something so distinctive to the table. Everyone is not going to understand that or accept it. And that is totally okay. Because those that do, God has sent to value and treasure who you are as a person; the good, the bad and the ugly. No title or position will run them away.